Turkeyfoot grapples with NRA fundraiser
Turkeyfoot school district (Daily American File Photo / January 21, 2013)
The rifle association plans to have students sell raffle tickets, awarding guns or money to winners, to raise money for the school's rifle team. By the end of Monday night's regular meeting, the school board approved the fundraiser by an 8-1 margin.
Board member Terry Bender said the district has received more than $20,000 in grants and donations from the NRA since the rifle team was formed in 2005.
"Not supporting this doesn't seem right considering how much money they have given to the school," he said. "I've worked with different school boosters, and I know how hard it is to raise money. They've been good to us."
Board member Patricia May voted against allowing the fundraiser, referring to an incident on Dec. 14 when a man walked into the school with a concealed pistol. Police said the man did not intend to threaten or harm anyone with the pistol.
The scare, which ended without incident, took place just hours after a shooting had occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 people — mostly children — were killed.
May said that given the incidents, she wouldn't support the NRA's fundraising efforts.
"I just don't think it's a good year for this given the climate and what has happened," she said. "I'm looking at this from a public opinion standpoint."
Board President Mike Diehl voted in favor of supporting the fundraiser on the condition that raffle tickets only be sold to adults.
The vote was accompanied by a discussion of school safety. School board members have considered investing in various safety upgrades. On Monday the board approved a $4,278 expenditure to purchase 15 ultra high frequency radios for school personnel. The hand-held radios will be used for all types of emergencies as well as day-to-day communications.
"We've been looking into suggestions that we've received from parents," Superintendent Darlene Pritt said. "We've determined the cost of some of these options and we'll need to decide just how far we want to go."
The district has received quotes for various safety upgrades. A metal detector would cost about $3,600, while metal-detecting wands would cost about $180 apiece, Pritt said. An unarmed security guard would cost the district about $17 per hour.
"You have to look at it as needs versus wants," Diehl said, adding that the radio purchases are prudent because of their multi-purpose applications.
Board member Terry Grove said he wants security to remain a subject of discussion. Board member Catherine Hinzy agreed, but noted that the school's budget restricts the amount of money it can spend on security.
District administrators have upgraded their emergency response policies in recent weeks. The school's main-entrance buzzer process has also been heightened, Pritt said.